ActiveTravels | get up & go!  
 subscribe to ActiveTravels
 Subscribe by RSS By RSS Feed or Email
 
Follow ActiveTravels on Twitter Like ActiveTravels on Facebook View the ActiveTravels YouTube channel
 
ActiveTravels - Travel Agents You Can Trust
   
     
 

Boston

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hotel Commonwealth’s $50 Million Makeover

When Hotel Commonwealth first made its debut a dozen years ago, it transformed Kenmore Square into a culinary destination, anchored by Eastern Standard, the restaurant I brought my son after his high school graduation. Just as beloved is the hotel’s second restaurant, Island Creek, which includes oyster farmer, Skip Bennett, as one of its owners. Sandwiched by these two heavyweights, it’s no surprise that Hotel Commonwealth slipped under the radar. That will change during the course of this year. A $50 million renovation has already doubled the lobby size, making it far more spacious and contemporary. The hotel has also added three signature suites. The Terrier Suite caters to alums or parents of nearby Boston University. The Rathskeller Suite includes pianos, guitars, and photos from Boston’s version of CBGB’s, the Rathskeller, which once stood on this plot of land. The Loft, with its tall ceilings and contemporary art provided by BU MFA students is my favorite of three. Next up is a Fenway Park Suite that will overlook the Green Monster at Fenway Park, a 5-minute walk from the hotel. This is part of a major expansion set to be complete in November that will add 96 rooms in an adjoining building. Not surprising when you consider Hotel Commonwealth's locale, within easy walking distance to Fenway Park, the MFA, and Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum, and some of Boston's finest restaurants right outside your door. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/14/15 at 06:00 AM
Lodging • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Family Fun with the Trustees of Reservations: Greater Boston

If you live in the Boston area and need a quick escape outdoors, look no further than a Trustees property. Some of my family’s most memorable day trips in the region have been to Hingham’s World’s End and Dover’s Noanet Woods. I’ll be delving into those sites in today’s itinerary, plus more.


Starting in Metro West and continuing counterclockwise around the 95/93 beltway that circles the city, we hit a favorite mountain biking locale, Noanet Woodlands. 17 miles of shaded trails weave through woods, skirt ponds, and lead you to Noanet Peak, which rewards you with views of the Boston skyline. Kids will enjoy the popular Caryl Trail, a half-mile walk to an old mill site. New this summer is a guided full moon and meteor shower hike for families in late July throughout August. Across the Powisset Street parking lot is the classic Powisset Farm which dates back three centuries. Take a leisurely walk through the farmstead, complete with chickens and pigs, then follow an easy, one-mile loop trail into the neighboring forest. 

Not far from the Noanet Woods in neighboring Medfield is another quintessential retreat for families, Rocky Woods. Walk around Chickering Pond or enjoy a longer excursion on carriage roads. New this year for families is the Night’s On, Lights Out Family Campout on August 1st. Pitch your tent in the evening and then participate in games and recreational activities. As the night darkens, you’ll go on a night hike before sharing stories around a campfire with S’mores. Pre-registration is required.

Continuing southeast, the Bradley Estate in Canton is easily found off of the highway. While the Georgian brick home and gardens are a popular spot for weddings, families will love seeing the llamas and sheep on the property. On July 9th from 3 pm to 5 pm, try your luck with Family Games on the grounds. The July 23rd Art Quest will lead families to four different destinations around the property. Each family member will then have an opportunity to experience the landscape through art. 

The Trustees purchased the 36-acre Governor Ames Estate in 2012 and what a gem this Easton property is. Trails lead under centuries-old beech trees to small serene ponds, sweeping meadows, and an elegant 19th-century stone stable. Don’t miss the 2nd Annual Legacy Event this coming Sunday, June 28th. Held from 11 am to 4 pm, the event features live music throughout the day as well as hands-on art programs, walking tours of the grounds, canoeing, and interactive children's programs including a Stegosaurus Scavenger Hunt, Cookie Monster Kitchen, and a children's entertainer to end the day.

Last but certainly not least is another crown jewel in the Trustees collection, World’s End. South of Boston, World’s End juts out of Hingham Harbor like a rooster at daybreak. In 1890, noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead was hired to transform World’s End into a “planned community” of 150 homes. Thankfully, this never came to fruition. The 251-acre estate was farmed and owned by one family until the Trustees of Reservations purchased the property with the help of the public in 1967. A 4-mile walk (jogging is also popular here) starts on a wide path bordered by white pines, hickories, oaks, and bracken ferns. The trail narrows as it hugs the rocky shores of the Atlantic Ocean, with views of the Boston Harbor and the city skyline. Upcoming programs for families include Learn to Kayak on June 28th and Trees and Bees on July 9th.
 
 
Also, don't forget that the Trustees own and manage 60 community gardens in Boston and hold year-round gardening classes, workshops, and events. For example, in Mattapan (30 Edgewater Drive) on July 11, from 1:30 pm-3 pm, kids can learn about bugs and go on a scavenger hunt. 
 
It’s been a pleasure to work with the Trustees again, especially their powerhouse publicist Kristi Perry, who knows all 113 properties intimately. Please take another look at all the blogs I wrote this week on the organization. There is a ton of events happening this summer and I don’t want you to miss out. Come to the August 22nd “Strandbeests” event on Crane Beach and please say hi to me in person. In the meantime, I’m off to Istanbul and Cappadocia, Turkey, back again with a new post on July 7th.

Have a wonderful 4th of July and keep active!
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/25/15 at 03:30 PM
Family Adventure • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Friday, July 31, 2015

Boston’s Lenox Hotel Just Gets Better With Age

There’s a reason why The Lenox is consistently rated one of the top properties in Boston by TripAdvisor. A mere 115 years old, the owners put close to $80 million in renovations the past decade, so the rooms are as modern and stylish as any new build. The staff are exceptional, especially the concierge desk, which personally vets restaurants and sights before making recommendations. Most important to me, they continue to seek out sustainable practices. So don’t expect small plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel to be tossed in the garbage every day. In its place are dispensers carrying Beekman 1802 products. If you’re not familiar with The Beekman Boys, they won The Amazing Race and have their own television show, The Fabulous Beekman Boys. Working out of a Sharon Springs farm, not far from where I grew up in upstate New York, Brent Ridge and his partner Josh Kilmer-Purcell have become purveyors of all things indigenous, including lotions, furniture, a tasty bruschetta, and addictive caramels. They just entered into an agreement with The Lenox this month to supply their products and there are plans for the Beekman Boys to redesign one of the suites. Like a good wine…

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/31/15 at 06:00 AM
Lodging • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Monday, October 26, 2015

The Best Hotel Room in Boston

The new Envoy Hotel, which officially opened in September, is already receiving press for its wonderful rooftop bar. The best views of the Boston skyline are from the water and the way the Envoy is located, across Fort Point Channel in the burgeoning Seaport District, you feel as if you’re on the water looking back at the city. If you want to savor that breathtaking view by yourself or with a loved one, book the corner suite, Room 604, just below the rooftop bar. The floor-to-ceiling windows overlook Boston harbor and all the tall buildings that edge the water. The room is spacious and stylish, with an antique map of the city painted on the glass doors that lead to the shower, and a large flatscreen television hidden into the wall, offering the latest Netflix and Hulu shows. Best of all, those windows bathe the room in light. If you can break away from the view, grab a cocktail on the roof or downstairs in the restaurant. Some of my favorite restaurants in Boston are within easy walking distance of the property, including Row 34, Legal Harborside, Trade, Sportello, Blue Dragon, and Barking Crab, located right next door to the Envoy. As part of the Autograph Collection, you can use your Marriott points to book the room. You can also take a water taxi straight from the airport to the hotel. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/26/15 at 06:00 AM
Lodging • (2) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tradewind Aviation Now Offering Flights Between Westchester and Boston

Tradewind Aviation, the private charter service, best known for their flights from White Plains to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard in the summer, has now expanded their service to Boston’s Logan Airport. The 40-minute flight to and from the White Plains Airport is offered 8 times daily. Shuttle flights depart from private charter FBO terminals with no TSA delays. Arrive just 30 minutes before departure and relax in the FBO lounge. The flights are operated in Swiss-built Pilatus PC-12 jet-prop aircraft flown by two pilots with air-conditioning, a pressurized cabin and plenty of room for luggage. Skiers will want to know that Tradewind Aviation will also begin flights between Westchester and Stowe, Vermont, starting December 11th. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/27/15 at 06:00 AM
Announcements • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Affordable European Flights Out Of Boston’s Logan Airport

This might be the summer to return to Europe, especially with the announcement last week that a number of low-cost airlines will soon start to offer flights from Boston’s Logan Airport. Thomas Cook Airlines will fly to Manchester, England, for as low as $312 one-way. AirBerlin will also begin offering flights to Dusseldorf, Germany. They join no-frills carriers like Norwegian Air and WOW, which started offering cheaper flights to Europe last summer. Adding to the fun is news that WestJet, the low-cost Canadian airline will soon offer flights to Halifax and Toronto. Time to take advantage of that favorable Canadian exchange rate?

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/26/16 at 06:00 AM
Deals • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Wednesday, March 09, 2016

JetBlue’s Premium Service, Mint, to Debut in Boston

JetBlue’s version of Business Class, Mint, already popular in New York, will make its debut at Logan Airport at the end of this month. Starting on March 24th, the airline will introduce Mint service to San Francisco and two days later will offer Mint flights to Barbados. In October, Jet Blue will be adding Mint service to LA flights. Mint offers 16 lie-flat seats in the front of the cabin, four of which are suites with the option to close your door for more privacy. Lie-flat seats include a massage feature and a button that can adjust cushion firmness. You can access more than 100 channels through DirecTV and SiriusXM, and the plane’s FlyFi broadband connection promises a fast Internet. Meals were created by the New York City restaurant Saxon + Parole and include dishes like herb-roasted monkfish, poached lobster with corn custard, and bison meatloaf. A signature Mint cocktail is made with Grey Goose, and the wine selection includes roses and California varietals. Each Mint passenger will also receive a complimentary Birchbox, an amenity kit filled with moisturizer, soap, and other goodies. Seats on the San Fran flight start at $599 one-way. Logan passengers should also be on the lookout for new JetBlue flights to Nashville and Salt Lake City starting in May. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/09/16 at 06:00 AM
Announcements • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Friday, April 08, 2016

Lawren Harris Finally Goes Solo

When the actor Steve Martin first viewed a painting by Lawren Harris, he mistook it for a work by Rockwell Kent. 

         
“I thought it was the best Rockwell Kent I’ve ever seen,” says Martin, punctuated by his legendary laugh. “It was breathtaking.”
 
That was over 20 years ago and soon Martin was in the home of longtime Harris collector, Ken Thomson, purchasing several of his canvases. When Ann Philbin, director of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, saw these paintings at Martin’s house during dinner one evening, she came up with a “wild and crazy” idea. Showcase the mid-career paintings of Lawren Harris and allow America’s version of a modern-day Renaissance Man, Steve Martin, the opportunity to curate the show. The result is “The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris,” on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston though June 12 after a successful run at the Hammer Museum. The exhibition will next travel to Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario in July and afterwards return the majority of these works back to the their respective Canadian institutions in time for the country’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2017.
 
To read my review of the Lawren Harris show at the MFA, please see the latest issue of Everett Potter’s Travel Report.  
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/08/16 at 06:00 AM
Art Finds • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Friday, April 22, 2016

Whitewater Raft on the Concord River, Less Than a 30-Minute Drive from Boston

Every weekend now through May 22nd, you can go on a 3-hour guided whitewater rafting trip on the Concord River, just north of Boston. Zoar Outdoor, known for their rafting trips down the Deerfield River in central Mass, is leading trips on the Concord for ages 14 and up. For the price of $83, you can rip through three major class III and IV rapids—Twisted Sister, Three Beauties, and Middlesex Dam. Zoar Outdoor supplies all gear. All you have to do is show up at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center and get ready to scream. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/22/16 at 06:00 AM
White Water Rafting • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Boston’s Emerging Seaport District

Peering at the sailboats slicing through the harbor from the sixth-floor roof-deck bar of the new Envoy Hotel, it finally dawns on you that, yes, Boston really does rest on the shores of the Atlantic. For some silly reason, Boston has never taken proper advantage of its ocean setting. When the Institute of Contemporary Art opened in a gem of a building on the edge of the harbor in December 2006, publicists started to dub the evolving neighborhood the Seaport District. Yet, five years after the ICA opening, not much changed. A sea of parking lots continued to surround the ICA and wharves still lined the harbor of this industrial port.

Then, in 2013, Vertex Pharmaceuticals made the bold initiative to move the company’s global headquarters to twin 18-story buildings featuring 1.1 million square feet of research labs and office space. Other companies joined them, including Manulife Financial, Fidelity Investments, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. At last, the late Mayor Menino’s dream of a burgeoning Seaport District has taken root. Everywhere you look along the waterfront today, new condominiums and office buildings are being constructed. 
 
To read more about visiting the Boston Waterfront, including my hotel and restaurant picks, check out my latest story for Global Traveler
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/25/16 at 06:00 AM
Urban Adventure • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Favorite Fall Foliage Walks in Boston, Strolling Arnold Arboretum

It could actually hit 80 degrees today in Boston. If my bike ride to Concord this past Saturday is any indication, we’re starting to see the first phases of fall foliage in the region. So take advantage of the wonderful weather and the fall colors this week to visit some of my favorite walking spots around Boston. With its maze of one-way streets, rotaries, and few parking options, Boston can be hell on wheels. It is, however, one of the best walking cities in the country. This is especially true when you consider all the green spaces we have around town or in the near suburbs. So ditch the car and take a quiet stroll at the locales I’m going to discuss this week. 

 
It’s easy to forget you’re still in Boston when walking under century-old elms, maples, and beeches at Arnold Arboretum. Located in Jamaica Plain, the 265-acre plot was donated to Harvard University in 1872. The immense botanical garden is known for its exotic array of flora including Australian trees, Japanese Gardens, and every type of rose imaginable. To learn more about the flora, consider taking a guided tour during the weekend throughout October. The grounds are open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year and admission is free.  
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/18/16 at 06:00 AM
Walks • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Favorite Fall Foliage Walks In and Around Boston, Walden Pond

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived,” wrote Henry David Thoreau in his best known work, Walden. Thoreau ventured to the woods with ax in tow in March 1845 to build his historic hut. Never would this modest writer imagine what an impact his philosophical musings would have on the world 160 years later. For two years, two months, and two days, Thoreau lived alone in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in his rustic abode built near the shores of Walden Pond in Concord.  While a replica of the hut only exists now, the woods make for a wonderful ramble, especially in mid-October with the maples aflame. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/19/16 at 06:00 AM
Walks • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Favorite Fall Foliage Walks In and Around Boston, Mt. Auburn Cemetery

It might sound macabre to hike through a cemetery, but Mt. Auburn is no ordinary burial ground. Opened in 1831, it is the first large-scale designed landscape in the country. Now a National Historic Landmark, the 174-acre arboretum is known for its peaceful strolls along ponds or in dense woodlands which boast more than 700 types of trees. Walk amidst the century-old sugar maples while you visit the graves of Winslow Homer, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Isabella Stewart Gardner. The Friends of Mount Auburn offer guided walking tours during the fall. Visitors are welcome every day of the year from 8 am to 5 pm.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/20/16 at 06:00 AM
Walks • (2) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Tuesday, February 07, 2017

February Vacation Deal at Boston’s Hotel Commonwealth

With February vacation week just around the corner, Boston's Hotel Commonwealth is offering a special staycation "Sale" in honor of the new Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale (#41). From 2/18 through 2/26, families staying at the hotel will receive the first night at a discounted rate of $199 and the second night (or second room) at an extra special "Sale" price of $41. It’s the perfect time to get out of the house and spend a few days exploring everything Boston has to offer, from the MFA’s new "Make Way for Ducklings" exhibition to ice skating at Frog Pond. Also included in the promotion is valet parking for one vehicle ($53 value), a special welcome gift for each child, and for those that stay 2/24 & 2/25, a double-feature movie night in the hotel’s new ballroom. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/07/17 at 06:00 AM
Deals • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Monday, May 08, 2017

New Beer Garden to Open on Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway

Excited to hear that the Greenway Conservancy is opening a Beer Garden this summer on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. They chose a perfect spot, right in front of the Rowes Wharf Arch at the Boston Harbor Hotel. They also chose my favorite Massachusetts-made beer, Trillium, which has breweries in Fort Point and Canton. Expect Fort Point Pale Ale, dry double-hopped Melcher Street, and six other beers on tap. Don’t just take my word that Trillium is one of the best brews in the region. Earlier this year, the website RateBeer ranked Trillium as the third best brewery in the world! The Beer Garden is slated to debut in late June. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/08/17 at 06:00 AM
Drink • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Monday, August 14, 2017

Top 25 Bike Sharing Programs

I’ve been a big fan of Hubway, Boston’s bike-sharing program since it started in 2011. I also love the opportunity to jump on a bike in other cities, especially after taking a bike tour with a local. So I was pleased to see Biking Expert’s list of top 25 bike sharing programs, where Boston ranks 4th, the top city in America. Surprised to see Moscow so high at number three. Not surprised to see Montreal on the list since they implemented one of the first bike sharing programs in a city. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/14/17 at 06:00 AM
Biking • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Biking Along the Charles in Boston

At least one Sunday every summer, we park our car at the large parking lot near the Artesani Playground Wading Pool (1255 Soldiers Field Road, Brighton) and bike along the Charles River into Cambridge. Near Mount Auburn Hospital, Memorial Drive is closed to cars for a good mile or so on Sundays, before you hit the sidewalk and pedal along the water. The river is full of activity, with scullers and crew teams sharing the water with sailboats and motor boats making their way out to Boston Harbor. On the Cambridge side, we pass Harvard and MIT while peering across the Charles at the Prudential Center, Citgo sign, and the distinctive gold dome of the Old State House. At the Museum of Science, we head across the street to North Point Park, a new gem of a park that looks up at the Zakim Bridge. A bike trail zips up past a skateboard park just under the bridge and over to Charlestown. Look down and you can see the boats waiting for the waters of the locks to rise. A mandatory stop to see the USS Constitution before crossing the Charlestown Bridge into Boston and heading to the Boston Public Market for tasty chicken shawarma in a pita at Inna’s. Then we head along the Charles on the Boston side through the Esplanade all the way back to our car. Give yourself a good 4 hours if you want to stop for lunch and take photos. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/15/17 at 06:00 AM
Biking • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Monday, September 18, 2017

Latest Boston Story in Alaska Airlines Inflight Publication

Over the years, I think more friends have found my stories in inflight pubs than any other outlet, including the hundreds of articles I wrote for Boston Globe, Yankee, and Men’s Journal. Yesterday, I received a text from a college buddy flying to Seattle on Alaska Airlines who spotted my feature on Boston (the piece starts on page 90). If you’re planning to head to New England this fall to see the foliage, the story is a good primer on the city. It includes many of my favorite sites, restaurants, and hotels including a must-stop at the MFA, dining at Shojo, and spending the night at Kenmore Square’s Hotel Commonwealth. Downstairs from Hotel Commonwealth you’ll find Eastern Standard, the restaurant our family came to celebrate after my son’s high school graduation. So rest assured that I’m giving you all my insider picks. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/18/17 at 06:00 AM
Travel Advice • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Monday, November 20, 2017

Holiday Stocking Stuffer No. 1, Don Papa Rum

Already a phenomenon in Paris, Don Papa Rum has just arrived in New York and Boston. I went to a rum tasting last week at Shojo in Boston’s Chinatown and was even more enamored with this rum than the last time I tried it in France. The 10-year-old bottle has hints of vanilla which stems not only from the sweeter Noble Cane found in the Philippines, but the result of aging in former bourbon and American oak casks. As the story goes, founder Stephen Carroll was sailing around the volcanic island of Negros, when he learned about the centuries-old Noble Cane and the reason they coined the island Sugarlandia. He went on land and discovered the remains of a small rum distillery. Carroll bought it out and started creating his own “black gold” molasses. In less than a decade, he’s created quite a buzz in the liquor world. Grab your bottle of 7 and 10-year rum at Vinodivino in Boston and Needham, Charles Street Liquor in Boston, Gordon Liquor in Waltham, among many other Boston area liquor stores, and you’ll soon believe the hype. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/20/17 at 06:00 AM
Drink • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Page 1 of 1 pages

 

 
 
 

about us
photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

ActiveTravels.com is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

Adventure Travel Trade Association

 

tags